Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.
The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us.
The original setting and place of The Pyramid is a newly-discovered ancient pyramid in the desert outside of Cairo. Unlike the pyramids of the Giza Plateau, this pyramid only has three sides instead of four, and was buried all the way to the top.
A pair of archaeologists, father and daughter team Drs. Miles and Nora Holden (Denis O’Hare and Ashley Hinshaw), are the discoverers. Their efforts are being covered by a small television crew consisting of on-air personality Sunni Marsh (Christa Nicola), and cameraman Fitzie (James Buckley). The final member of the ensemble is Michael Zahir (Amir K), who operates a small rover intended to explore the pyramid.
The plot dictates that the characters enter the pyramid, so that’s just what they do. Not long after, they discover that they are being stalked by…something. That…something is a monster, and its origins are kind of interesting for a film like this. The fact that the film takes place inside of an Egyptian pyramid hints at what that origin could be, but it was still clever enough to keep me guessing until the big reveal.
So, what the monster is, is interesting, but how it looks is not. First, the CGI for this film is poor. Skin tones are slick and shiny, giving the creature and some other beasties a mid-90s CGI look. The CGI doesn’t integrate into shots well, either. As for the creature design, the monster is a combination of fierce and laughable. It has a look on its face that evokes confusion as much as animal rage. Really the only thing frightening about it is that it kills people.
It does take its time, though. There being only a handful of potential victims, most of this film is spent with the cast wandering around in the dark trying to find the exit. This is where parts of the set are used repeatedly. At least the set looks good. I’m sure archaeologists and Egyptologists in the audience could pick it to pieces, but it looks convincing to the layman.
Director Grégory Levasseur created a fun house for his cast to wander around in. There are dead ends and booby traps galore. In the film’s lore, the pyramid wasn’t built to keep graverobbers out, but to keep the monster in.
But, the pyramid set is where this film’s creativity ends. There just isn’t much here that a horror fan hasn’t seen before, and nothing that would keep other viewers all that interested. If a film is going to rely on other films that came before for so much of its content, then it had better be at least as good as those progenitors. The Pyramid, unfortunately for viewers, is not. There will always be better options.
As a shitty movie watch, there’s not much going on, either. The acting is bad, but not laughably so. The dialogue is not great, but at least it’s coherent. The CGI stinks, but it’s not absurd. This is an example of a shitty movie that just isn’t all that enjoyable, because it never commits any serious crimes against the art of film. As such, it lands among some other anonymous shitty flicks at #174, in between Bunker: Project 12 and Chernobyl Diaries. These three films can go out for drinks together and discuss what plots they’re going to steal for their sequels.